Are You Being Eaten Up by Your Business?

21733042226_97c90257d0_zPhoto by Justin Ennis

Running a small business is not for everyone. A small or micro business can offer a huge range of benefits and opportunities… but also comes with more than its fair share of challenges! I come across many of these challenges again and again, both in my own business and those of my coaching clients. One of the most difficult to address is the question of where the business owner ends and the business begins.

Have you come across this issue? It can be particularly tricky for service-related businesses. After all, when you are the product how can you maintain separation between you the individual and you the business?

Is this all sounding very familiar? You may be at risk of being ‘eaten up’ by your business if:

  • You can’t take any time of from your business because no one can replace you
  • You spend more time talking to your spouse or partner about your business than anything else
  • You regularly give up your free time to catch up on work
  • You can’t remember the last time you spent time developing non-work related skills or interests
  • You spend more time networking with other business owners than you do socialising with friends
  • You spend a lot of time using social media exclusively for your business
  • You feel you are caught up in growing your business rather than taking time to consider an ideal work/life balance
  • You mainly define yourself by what you do in your business

It can be uncomfortable to feel that your business is taking over your life. This is true even if you are very happy with your business and absolutely love what you do! It’s important to take pride in your work and business, but when things get out of balance it can start to cause problems.

After all, no matter how much you enjoy running your business or how successful it is, we all need to take regular time for ourselves. Becoming one and the same with your business twenty four hours a day, seven days a week is unlikely to be a healthy choice in the long run.

Want to make sure you don’t get trapped in a situation like this? Here are some little ideas from me for how to make sure you get breathing space and retain your identity even when you’re running what feels like an all-encompassing business.

Set non-negotiable time off

Most business owners find it difficult to mentally ‘leave’ their business at the end of the working day. There’s always more to be done and it’s easy to fall into the habit of working all evening and all weekend. It’s probably unrealistic to tell yourself that you’ll stop doing this completely… but what you can do is set yourself small pockets of protected time off. This could mean making a promise to never work after 9.30 in the evening, or blocking off weekend mornings to spend with family or get out into the fresh air.

Learn a new skill

Investing the time to learn a new skill can be incredibly rewarding. Doing this when the new skill is purely recreational is even better! If there’s a hobby you’ve always been interested in, why not make this the year you give it a go? Learning a musical instrument, taking up a new craft or joining a sports group can all be excellent ways to make space in your life for something that’s just for you.

Expand your business team

It’s difficult to maintain separation between you and your business when everything falls on your shoulders. Bringing in outside help can be an excellent way to remind yourself of this distinction. Don’t worry: expanding your team doesn’t have to mean taking on a member of staff. Engaging the services of a virtual assistant or freelance professional for just a few hours a week could reduce pressure and act as a helpful reminder.

How do you avoid getting eaten up by your business? I’d love to hear your tips and strategies. Why not share them with me by commenting on this blog post?

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